A mentor from college, only five or so miles from the hospital, recently gave birth to her second child. She told me about her surprise when another alumnus who had graduated a few years before me and is now an OB/GYN resident helped deliver her baby. “They asked me if it would be okay if a med student was there for the delivery, and I said no! I didn’t want to run into any of my old students!”
My boyfriend’s grandfather was recently in the hospital for an elective surgery. While we were over for Easter dinner, he mentioned that he had met one of my old classmates during his stay. “He took out a few of my staples!” he exclaimed. “Lots of med students came in and talked with me. When they asked if it would be alright if a med student worked with me, I said sure…as long as it wasn’t you!” he continued with a wink.
While in the elevator that separates the college from the hospital, a couple made conversation with my friend and me. “Are you med students?” they inquired, as if our IDs reading “STUDENT” in large white letters wasn’t a dead giveaway. “We are so thankful for you and the sacrifices you make to be students. We love coming to a teaching hospital. We love being able to teach and learn from you.”
These different interactions over the past couple years have caused me to pause and really think about how lucky we, as med students and doctors in training, are to have so many wonderful patients to learn from at the hospital. It surely is a bit of an inconvenience to the patient and not the most efficient of ways to have to recount their stories again and again to med students, residents, and attending physicians. As first and second year students, we participate in “bedsides” where we perform a history and physical on patients, almost solely for our own learning and benefit as we don’t really play a role in the treatment or direction of that patient’s care. Yet, without these patients who are so giving of their time, energy, and personal information and situations, we could never learn all that we need to in order to serve the greater population in the future.
So, from a very gracious and humbled med student, thank you!